BAGUIO CITY – Some fifty-eight remote villages from the thirteen town of Benguet were already energized by the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) from the more than P86 million it was able to acquire from the government’s Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) over two years ago.
BENECO Network Services Department Manager Engr. Ramel Rifani stated that of the earlier 82 sitios from the different parts of the province which were earlier programmed to be energized with the availableP86.718 million from the government’s SEP through the National Electrification Administration (NEA) more than 2 years ago, 21 sitios are now undergoing energization while 3 sitios were already provided with the electric poles that will be used to string the power lines to the households who will benefit from the said program.
Further, he claimed that of the 58 sections that were already energized by BENECO under the able leadership of General Manager Engr. Melchor S. Licoben and board president lawyer Esteban Somngi, 13 sitios have already completed the ceremonial switch on ceremony over the past several months.
The BENECO official disclosed that the sitios that are either energized or undergoing energization are located in Tuba with 13 followed by Kibungan with 12, Bakun and Kabayan– 10 each, Kapangan- 9, Atok and Tublay – 7 each, Sablan – 6, Bokod – 5, Mankayan 2 and Buguias – 1.
However, Rifani admitted that the contractor has not yet been paid for the work that he was able to accomplish in the implementation of the government’s SEP because of the sudden disappearance of the more than P58 million that was deposited by NEA with the Land Bank of the Philippines Baguio branch purposely to settle the government’s obligation as the same was allegedly illegally transferred by some individuals who are interested to deliberately sow confusion on the leadership of BENECO despite the Board of Directors having chosen the most qualified general manager of the country’s top performing electric cooperative.
According to him, despite the prevailing leadership impasse and the disappearance of the funds earmarked by the NEA for the said program, the contractor continues to work with BENECO for the completion of the ongoing energization projects so that cheap and quality power will be delivered to the households living in the various remote villages of Benguet.
BENECO is one of the few power distribution utilities that can afford to offer cheap and quality power to the member-consumer-owners (MCOs) because of its effective and efficient distribution system that was established over the past 3 decades by the passionate and dedicated personnel of the electric cooperative who worked hard in reviving the previously ailing electric cooperative to be one of the country’s top performing electric cooperative even with the leadership crisis besetting its existence.
BENECO’s power rates are still comparable to the power rates being charged by private power distribution utilities even if it provides quality services to identified non-viable areas within its franchise area like those remote communities that are situated in Benguet.